A report from Save the Children has said that the five-year long war in Yemen has had a “devastating” impact on the mental health of the children in the country. Most of the children polled in a major survey told the charity that they suffer from sadness and depression.
“Around one in five children said that they are always afraid and always grieving,” the report said. Fifty-two per cent of the children asked said that they never feel safe when they are apart from their parents, while 56 per cent said that they do not feel safe when walking alone.
In the largest survey of its kind since the escalation of the conflict in Yemen, Save the Children interviewed 629 children between the ages of 13 and 17, as well as 627 parents and other caregivers in three Yemeni regions.
“The children we spoke to are terrified,” said the charity’s CEO Inger Ashing. “This is what five years of war does to the mental wellbeing of children.”
The report was released amid the looming threat of the coronavirus pandemic spreading to Yemen, a country which is already deemed by the UN to be the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe. The threat of a COVID-19 outbreak makes the need to end the war more crucial than ever, added Ashing.
On Sunday, the National Salvation Government (NSG) based in the capital Sanaa, issued strict measures aimed at preventing a potential outbreak including a 21-point precautionary plan. Thus far, the Yemeni authorities have claimed that there have not been any cases reported; this was confirmed by the World Health Organisation earlier this month.
In March 2015, the Saudi-led coalition commenced air strikes in Yemen aimed at re-installing exiled Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and toppling the Houthi-aligned NSG which has been governing the capital and much of the north since 2016. Yesterday, the Yemeni military allied with the Houthis revealed that the Saudi-led coalition had carried out more than 257,000 air strikes over the past five years.